As you probably know by now I'm always on the lookout for new recipes to try. I love cooking and I love discovering a new recipe. I find that once you give something a go once, it's like second nature the next time you make it. What was once a step-by-step tedious recipe soon becomes a family favourite and an easy mid-week meal.
My latest fascination is cooking for my baby. Billy is nine months now and can pretty much eat most things. More often than not he'll have exactly what we have for dinner, albeit maybe a slightly different texture. It's a great stage. He loves all forms of fruit and vegetables, meat, fish, cheese, yoghurt, raisins, bread, porridge... and basically anything that is put in front of him. He is a great little grubber (just like his mammy eh?).
It really means a lot to me that he has a healthy diet. I've always battled with my weight (cue the violin strings) and it honestly is a pain in the bum. I'm someone who knows a lot about healthy eating, someone who loves healthy food, but I'm so inconsistent. I'm either being really good, or not caring too much. That is a cycle that is going to end this year, mark my words. But that is a post for a different day.
Billy's diet is something that means a great deal to me in that I know I am shaping his future relationship with food. It sounds crazy because he's only 9 months, but we all started somewhere, and if I can cement good eating habits in to him now, then I'll feel a lot happier about him building on that foundation when he's older. Don't get me wrong, I'm not super strict, but I feel passionate about him eating lots of different healthy vegetables and fruits and having a balanced healthy diet wherever possible.
Like most babies, Billy has an inherent sweet tooth. It makes sense though doesn't it? Breastmilk and formula are both really sweet in flavour. Their first ever food is a sweet drink essentially. Most recently I've tried him with raisins and these have gone down a treat. A nice little sweet fix. Though I hear they can be pretty hard on their little teeth so make sure you're giving them a good scrub after. I, on the other hand, don't have to worry about that just yet as I still have a toothless gummy bear on my hands.
He also loves yoghurts and I occassionally give him the Heinz Biscotti which he loves.
We were out all day today and I came home with the plan to make a banana bread. We had four very ripe (about to go to banana heaven) bananas lying in the fruit bowl and I didn't want them to go to waste. I had the makings of the recipe and it would be a nice not so guilt-inducing sweet treat with a cup of tea if we fancied one. And then I had a bit of an epiphany.
I was thinking about how the house smells divine while the banana bread is cooking. Then I was thinking about how Billy wouldn't really be able to have any because of the sugar content, and then the walnuts which I haven't given him yet. But I loved the idea of him having a home-made "sweet treat" or something snacky straight from the oven. I put my thinking hat on and came up with a completely sugar-free banana bread recipe. No nuts either. I wasn't sure if it would work out and it was just an experiment to be honest. I was delighted when it turned out exactly how I imagined it. A beautiful dense but soft texture, sweet but not overly sweet, and perfect in bite-sized pieces or larger slices depending on your preference.
This is how it looked when it came out of the oven. I wish I could include the smell here. It was gorgeous. I used a normal long loaf tin, hence it's long appearance.
It's on the flatter side, but that is actually a good thing in my opinion. Easier for little hands and little mouths. You could of course use a smaller tin, or even muffin cases and make them in to individual muffins. The mixture works for both.
This is the inside of the cake. It was dense, and yet light as well. The banana gave it a lovely moist consistency. The outside was crumbly but not overly so, which again I was really happy about as it will be ideal for little hands and mouths.
I actually cut it up in to little bite-sized pieces. This makes it handy to just grab a little piece as you need it. I froze half of them and will defrost them when I want to use them. For now they will be the go-to sweet snack for Billy. It's great to be able to offer him something nice, something a bit different, and even better that I know they are not laced with sugar. In fact, they have none at all.
And for the adults, we have the bold version. This one does contain sugar, and walnuts. It's gorgeous and you can find the recipe here. It really hits the spot with a cup of tea. Recipe credit has to go to my friend Melissa though. She kindly shared it with me and I've made it plenty of times since.
Jesus this post is turning in to a bit of a photo exhibition isn't it? I should probably give you the recipe now.
Here it is my friends, sugar-free baby/toddler/child friendly banana bread. Let me know if you'll give it a bash!
You will need
4oz plain flour
35g butter, melted
2 ripe bananas
half a teaspoon of baking powder
half a teaspoon of cinnamon
a few drops of vanilla essence
2 tablespoons of porridge oats
and the secret ingredient - fruit puree. You will need about 4 tablespoons of it. I actually used one of the Supervalu own-brand fruit puree pots. They are 100% fruit puree. I used the banana and apple one, about 3/4 of the tub and it worked beautifully.
Preheat your oven to 180'C (gas mark 4).
1. In a separate bowl mash your bananas using a fork. I like to mash them well but leave some lumpier bits. They add a really nice moist texture.
2. In a large bowl sift in the flour and add the baking powder, cinnamon, vanilla essence, and the oats.
3. Melt the butter and add to the bowl of the dry ingredients.
4. Beat the egg and add to the bowl.
5. Add the mashed banana and the fruit puree and stir.
6. Line the loaf tin using grease-proof paper, or a couple of sprays of frylite.
7. Fill the loaf tin and place in the centre of the oven for 40 minutes or until bread appears golden on the outside and springs back when you press down on it.
Labels: baby recipe, banana bread, healthy, sugar-free